I’ve been meaning to write on this subject for quite some time.
I’ve been paying close attention to how the news is reported to us ever since 9/11. The proliferation of bad news has increased dramatically since social media platforms first appeared. How can we verify the veracity of the news we are reading? Is broadcasting the same news nonstop, even if it is accurate, healthy? The news hardly ever presents a “moral to the story” or a recommendation on how negative events might be avoided. The news can occasionally resemble a staged production where the actors are reading scripts, especially political news. Let’s examine a movie that demonstrates the potential for media manipulation called ‘Wag The Dog.’
That was the first time that I noticed that the news constantly showed us people’s trauma and suffering on repeat. I won’t go into details about the images that will forever stay in my mind from that event, but I do have to say that it’s the media’s constant replaying of death and violence from that event that played a huge role in burning into my memory the things that I saw. I naturally gravitated to wanting to find out what actually happened on that day. Did Donald Rumsfeld report that $2.3 trillion USD was missing or was it how the media worded it that led us to think this? What about the news that building 7 went down but wasn’t actually hit by a plane? Or that the area where the Pentagon was hit just happened to have the computers where the information about the missing money was located?
Up to this day, 9/11 is still a mystery to most of us who lived through that or witnessed it via media coverage. The song that was hot around that time was ‘Usher- U got it bad.’ I don’t know why, but I’ll always remember that song because of that event.
I started to view the world differently after that incident. I discovered that the world is a strange place and that the integrity of our sources of information can be under risk. I’ve always had a deep-seated skepticism for almost everyone and everything. especially when it comes to famous people and media figures. I occasionally ponder how news anchors differ from Hollywood actors. Consider the fact that news anchors frequently have fame and wealth comparable to those of Hollywood actors. It would be denying reality to believe that these people don’t enjoy some sort of fame. You can also deceive yourself by assuming that journalists aren’t attempting to gain notoriety.
The media became aware of what had the public’s interest. That was OJ Simpson and the white Bronco police pursuit in the USA. It’s probably safe to claim that we caused it to ourselves. News organizations know what to do to make money and stay on the air after specific events that skyrocketed TV ratings.
In an article that I read on Psychcentral.com, there were some really good points that I felt I should share with you all.
“Media engagement impacts how we form relationships with strangers to how we experience life as a whole. One such impact, perhaps less commonly discussed, is the media’s effect on human memory and how this affects the way we recall history.” “…the literature suggests that media affects the content of memories, the recollection of memories, and the capacity of memory, ultimately influencing the way we remember history.”
“Media modifies not only what we remember but how we remember. For example, a news report, tweet, or Facebook post that includes false information can impact what the reader recalls about the event.”
This part of the article got me a bit heated because of how true it is.
“Along the same lines, the use of strong or sensationalized language can influence what details are remembered about an event, such as whether something or someone was present. Thus, when headlines that use strong verbiage are widely broadcast, there is risk for memory distortion if the information is exaggerated.”
Here’s a part about the impacts of social media:
“Social media also poses a threat to memory, specifically in the formation of memories. One way to understand social media’s effect is through the “illusory-truth effect,” whereby people tend to rate familiar statements as more true than new statements. This is especially pertinent to the fake news phenomenon. According to the illusory-truth effect, when information is presented over and over again on social media platforms, it is more likely to be deemed true.”
The article mentions something called “The Google Effect.”
“Studies show that people who expect to have access to information later on, more readily forget information than those who did not. Furthermore, people show better memory for where to locate the information than the actual information.”
“Such susceptibility to news manipulation through language and repetition, together with a reliance on others to experience and document history, increases our risks for accepting false narratives and inaccurate accounts of history. It is imperative for us to share results about the media’s impact on memory with the gatekeepers of these platforms, given our memories which root us personally and culturally and thus ultimately define our history.”
Source: The Effects of Media on Memory (psychcentral.com)
What about Social Media’s Effects On Our Memory And Mood?
“Social media use may have negative implications for everyday memory through emotional well-being. Prior correlational as well as experimental research has shown greater social media use has been linked to lower happiness through technostress (i.e., technology-specific stress; Brooks, 2015), greater negative affect (Bennett et al., 2019), and worse overall mood (Sagiaglou & Greitemeyer, 2014).”
“For example, in an ecological momentary assessment study, visiting a greater number of social media sites and spending more time on social media sites were both independently associated with greater general negative affect as well as sadness and guilt specifically (Bennett et al., 2019).”
“Social media use may reduce emotional well-being by increasing negative feelings of social comparison (i.e., Chou & Edge, 2012; Lee, 2014) such that an individual who spends time on social media may be exposed to highly-selected and overall positive depictions of others and in turn, feel more negatively about one’s self in comparison.”
“In turn, lower emotional well-being may negatively influence memory functioning.” “Further, in experimental studies, greater induced negative affect, relative to positive or neutral mood conditions, has been linked to greater mind wandering (Smallwood, Fitzgerald, Miles & Phillips, 2009), worse prospective memory (Kliegel et al., 2005) and poorer memory recall (Ellis, Thomas & Rodriguez, 1984; Ellis et al., 1997).”
Source: Daily Associations between Social Media Use and Memory Failures: The Mediating Role of Negative Affect – PMC (nih.gov)
“Research also shows that heavy social media use is linked with memory deficits, especially in your transactive memory. This kind of memory involves deciding what information is important enough to store in your brain and what information can be outsourced.”
“In one study, the participants were asked to record an experience using their notes or social media, and other groups were asked to simply experience the event without recording it. At the end of the study, those who had recorded or shared the event performed worse and showed more of a memory deficit than those who experienced the event without recording it. Externalizing an experience worsened participants’ memory because their brain received the message that it didn’t need to hold onto information that was stored elsewhere.”
“There are myriad positive aspects to social media, including new friendships, career opportunities, exposure and connection to new cultures and movements, just to name a few. However, science tells us how important it is to be aware of, and guard against, social media’s negative impacts as they are, quite literally, shrinking your brain. The takeaway? Despite how social media may have changed your life for the better and no matter how much you enjoy carrying around a mini dopamine dispenser, moderation is key.”
Source:What Social Media Does to Your Brain – NeuroGrow
Wag The Dog Movie Review
“The metaphor “wag the dog” is meant to show the power of the media. A dog is smarter than its tail, and the dog controls the tail. The dog is society and the media is the tail. A dog is smarter than its tail, meaning that the tail (the media) is smarter than the dog (society).”
“We remember the slogans, but we don’t remember the war” is an interesting line from the movie that demonstrates what people actually remember about certain events. We never see the actual war or what is going on—we just hear the messages that come from the“war.”
“When Stanley Moss, the producer, devises the scheme of planting an Albanian bomb in Canada, he is definitely doing harm to Americans, Canadians, and Albanians. He instilled fear in all of those people involved, proving the unethical behaviour of the media.”
Barry Levinson made a movie called Wag The Dog.
“While Levinson’s 1997 film Wag the Dog wasn’t based on real events, it came out at just the right time to sync up with reality. The film explores the aftermath of a political scandal, in which the President of the United States is caught having an extramarital affair with an underage White House staffer.”
Was it a coincidence that the 1997 film was released about a month before the Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinski scandal happened?
Audiences focused more on the scandal than the actual point of the film.
“Wag the Dog isn’t about the President’s sex life; it’s a grim commentary on how media can mask the sinister things that the government is actually doing.”
In the movie, people who work at the White House get word that there’s a scandal that could derail the presidential elections only two weeks before the elections. The President’s staff scramble to figure out how to take the attention away from this and come up with a plan to divert the public’s eyes away. They hire a media fixer Conrad Brean played by Robert De Niro, who is someone who is skilled in “media manipulation,” in an attempt to come up with a way to make their issue go away or create a big enough distraction that people will focus on that instead. He decides that a “war” would distract the public from the scandal. That’s when he seeks Hollywood film producer Stanley Moss played by Dustin Hoffman. They start coming up with a plan on how to market this “war.”
In the film, the “crisis actor,” that was played by Kirsten Dunst, realizes that everything is absolutely nuts. In one scene, when the production crew was preparing to film, she was given a bag of Tostitos chips and was told to hold it like it was a baby. The Hollywood people came up with a fake war in Albania to distract the public from the president’s scandal. “Albanian terrorists have brought a nuclear weapon into Canada and are planning to smuggle it into the US. Also, in Albania itself, the terrorists are wreaking havoc on small villages.
With the help of real actors, actresses, and state-of-the-art special effects, Brean and Motss must carry the story until after the election and make sure it finishes off without any doubt of the reality of it. But what if Motss wants credit for the masterpiece? And what if the CIA gets suspicious? And what if their chosen war hero is actually a psychotic rapist?”
Source:Wag the Dog Movie Synopsis, Summary, Plot & Film Details (filmjabber.com)
Fast forward to the present day. The war between Ukraine and Russia, which started in February of 2022, has been a very controversial one. War is never ok. I feel for the innocent people who have been affected and displaced due to it. My condolences to the lives that have been lost.
I am someone who doesn’t usually publicly express my views about serious topics like war, the pandemic and other things because of how easily words can be misinterpreted and weaponized by people who are simply looking for controversy and a way to stir things up for content.
Many things have been said regarding the current war. Provocation, broken treaties, disregard for diplomatic methods of resolving issues, cover-ups, NATO setting up shop too close to Russian borders via Ukraine territory and more. Whether it’s the controversy surrounding Hunter Biden’s laptop, the Biden family’s involvement with Ukrainian industries, supposed US “bio labs,” and the Nordstream 2 pipeline explosion, I think it’s fair to say that there isn’t a whole lot of transparency happening in the media.
Since before the cold war, propaganda has been a major way to convince populations how to feel and think regarding who is “the enemy.” In 2023, the same model has been used to the point where we have media companies censoring opposing views contrary to what the mainstream media narrative is. Even Google Adsense was warning users on their site that they would de-monetize any website that goes against the current narrative of what’s happening over there. I will say this here “I do not condone the war that is happening in Ukraine, and I hope that peace comes sooner than later for the people of that land.”
It’s unfortunate that people dressed in tailored suits get to beef with each other, only to then send the youngest, strongest and bravest men and women to fight their wars while the leaders get to sit in front of the cameras during press conferences and debate what the next steps are in order to end the conflict. Human life is simply collateral damage when it comes to geopolitics. Insane spending from the supporting countries is going to previously Afghanistan and other wars; meanwhile, those very nations have broken health care systems, broken educational systems, extreme inflation, housing markets at record all-time highs, and so much more. Those very dollars being funnelled to fund wars could possibly even eradicate the supporting nations’ issues.
I’m almost sure that most people have heard that the media manipulates the truth to benefit those who fund it. There is a clear agenda when it comes to mainstream news, and it is not to inform you about things to benefit you. The media basically shows us how the government is spending taxpayers’ money, sending money to fund wars that have nothing to do with them, creating bills and laws that the majority of the world’s population doesn’t agree on, and, in a nutshell, are showing us “There’s nothing you can do to stop this.” “The film explores how war generates fear and panic and how these heightened emotions are weaponized by both the news cycle and the government.”
Check out what’s happening in Canada.
“Bill C-11, which would subject much of the Canadian internet to the same levels of CRTC oversight that are already mandatory for the country’s TV and radio broadcasters.
Most controversially, this would require online streaming platforms such as YouTube or Netflix to meet government-specified quotas on Canadian content.
Currently, most major streaming sites are governed by complex algorithms designed to match users with the content they would find most interesting. But under C-11, the algorithms would need to be tweaked so that any media Ottawa considers “Canadian” would be disproportionately pushed on Canadian viewers while non-Canadian media is buried.
YouTube, for one, has charged that such measures would serve only to put Canadian content in front of “people who don’t like it” – resulting in a wave of negative attention for Canadian videos that would hurt their performance in the rest of the world.”
What Does Canada Bill C-11 Do?
It aims to regulate digital streaming platforms such as Netflix, YouTube and Spotify in the same way as broadcasters by requiring them to create a certain percentage of Canadian content and make it accessible to Canadian users.
Google has temporarily blocked some Canadian users from viewing news content.
The company says the move is a response to the Liberal government’s proposed Online News Act, or Bill C-18, which would require internet giants to compensate Canadian media companies for making news content available on their platforms.
What Is Bill C-18 In Canada?
First tabled in June 2022, Bill C-18 would essentially force companies like Google and Meta, which owns Facebook, to negotiate deals to pay Canadian media companies for the content they link to and preview on their websites and platforms.
“All we’re asking Facebook to do is negotiate fair deals with news outlets when they profit from their work,” Rodriguez said. “This is part of a disappointing trend this week that tech giants would rather pull news than pay their fair share.”
Facebook last year raised concerns about the legislation and warned it might be forced to block news-sharing on its platform.
HOW DO I KNOW IF THIS IMPACTS ME?
“Google says less than four percent of its Canadian users are affected by the test – not an insignificant number, considering Google’s search engine enjoys an approximately 90 percent market share in the country.
To find out if you’re one of them, simply open the Google search engine, type in a Canadian-themed word like “Trudeau” or “Ottawa,” and then click on Google’s “News” tab. If you see stories by Canadian media outlets like CTV News, your account is probably not affected. If you’re mostly seeing news sources from the U.S. and elsewhere, you’re likely among the four percent.”Source:https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/what-is-bill-c-18-and-how-do-i-know-if-google-is-blocking-my-news-content-1.6286816
I guess what I’m saying is that this basically implies we’ll mostly see the news from the perspective of what the Canadian government considers “appropriate,” maybe? Although I could be misinterpreting that, that is how it appears to me. This bothers me for a variety of reasons. You can look up these bills.
The material we just reviewed is not simple to digest. We now have proof that a constant stream of news and media has a deleterious impact on our memory. We discovered a movie that strangely feels too true to life.
A film that demonstrates the lengths to which governments would go in order to divert our attention from the crucial issues that their citizens should be addressed. Some musicians would rather not have politicians exploit their music in any way when it comes to using their music during press rallies and such.. Artists like MGMT, the Foo Fighters, and Axwell & Ingrosso of Swedish House Mafia.
Nonetheless, there are certain musicians that openly support politicians and use their platforms to attempt and sway voters in the candidates’ favour. The likes of 50 Cent, Ice Cube, Lil Pimp, I mean, Lil Pump, Cardi B, Offset, Bad Bunny, Common, Jay-Z, and Beyonce are all mentioned. When you take a step back, you realize how heavily politics has influenced Latin Urban and Hip-Hop music and culture.
At this point, I can advise you to consider both sides of the news constantly. Don’t believe everything you hear, and don’t be duped by the media’s tricks. Watch the movie as well, please!Barry Levinson’s Wag the Dog Was Prophetic at the Wrong Time (collider.com)
Wag the Dog | Media Law Movies (osu.edu)
Wag the Dog Questions/Answers (psu.edu)
Written By: Mario Funes
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Don’t forget to check out the Artist Spotlight section of the Newsletter to find out what our picks were that stood out from the Woke Up A Rebel Playlist.
Have a blessed week!
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S!sha (See-Sha)-Eccentric Mind EP
S!sha is an indie rapper, songwriter from Toronto. Repping the Jane and Finch community, she brings a very unique sound that’s also refreshing and reminiscent of what Toronto has been missing in the “female emcee” category: Bars and melodies. This 3 track project is a great listen. I find that none of the signs are skips. Favourite track: Nerve.
Find it in this week’s playlist on Spotify.
Eladio Carrion- 3MEN2 KBRN
Eladio is a Puerto Rican artist who also reps New York. His latest album ain’t nothin’ to eff with. With features from 50 Cent, Bd Bunny, Future and others, he definitely holds his weight amongst these heavyweights. Since the album dropped, the biggest news that’s kept the project in everyone’s scope has been Bad Bunny’s alleged shot at Kendal Jenner’s ex Devin Booker. I’m sure no one minds the publicity from the controversy.
Major Lazer, Major League DJz, Brenda Fassie
I think this track is better than their previous collaboration with Tiwa Savage. IT’s an amapiano song, it speaks for itself. It’s dope.
Find it in this week’s playlist on Spotify.
Sticky- Ni’jah, Childish Gambino, KIRBY
Creo En Dios- Dj Chus, Joeski, Jimmy Lopez
Amazing song by legendary DJ chus from Spain, New York’s very own Joeski and Jimmy Lopez. Make sure to add this to your personal playlist. It will take you on a journey.
OLD SCHOOL SONG/ALBUM OF THE WEEK
In honour of season 3 of the Wu-Tang: An American Saga series, I decided to start listening to the Wu-Tang Clan’s albums from the beginning. Stay tuned for a special dedicated podcast episode of my experience growing up with Wu-Tang’s music and influence.